Why is it that whatever we touch we turn into a problem? We have made God a problem, we have made love a problem, we have made relationship, living a problem, and we have made sex a problem. Why? Why is everything we do a problem, a horror? Why are we suffering? Why has sex become a problem? Why do we submit to living with problems, why do we not put an end to them? Why do we not die to our problems instead of carrying them day after day, year after year? Surely, sex is a relevant question, which I shall answer presently; but there is the primary question, why do we make life into a problem? Working, sex, earning money, thinking, feeling, experiencing, you know, the whole business of living – why is it a problem? Is it not essentially because we always think from a particular point of view, from a fixed point of view? We are always thinking from a centre towards the periphery; but the periphery is the centre for most of us, and so anything we touch is superficial. But life is not superficial, it demands living completely, and because we are living only superficially, we know only superficial reaction. Whatever we do on the periphery must inevitably create a problem, and that is our life: we live in the superficial and we are content to live there with all the problems of the superficial. So, problems exist as long as we live in the superficial, on the periphery, the periphery being the `me’ and its sensations, which can be externalize or made subjective, which can be identified with the universe, with the country, or with some other thing made up by the mind.
So as long as we live within the field of the mind there must be complications, there must be problems; and that is all we know. Mind is sensation, mind is the result of accumulated sensations and reactions, and anything it touches is bound to create misery, confusion, an endless problem. The mind is the real cause of our problems, the mind that is working mechanically night and day, consciously and unconsciously. The mind is a most superficial thing, and we have spent generations, we spend our whole lives cultivating the mind, making it more and more clever, more and more subtle, more and more cunning, more and more dishonest and crooked, all of which is apparent in every activity of our life. The very nature of our mind is to be dishonest, crooked, incapable of facing facts, and that is the thing which creates problems, that is the thing which is the problem itself.
What do we mean by the problem of sex? Is it the act, or is it a thought about the act? Surely, it is not the act. The sexual act is no problem to you, any more than eating is a problem to you; but if you think about eating or anything else all day long because you have nothing else to think about, it becomes a problem to you. (Laughter.) Do not laugh and look at somebody else, it is your life. So, is the sexual act the problem, or is it the thought about the act? And why do you think about it? Why do you build it up, which you are obviously doing? The cinemas, the magazines, the stories, the way women dress, everything is building up your thought of sex. And why does the mind build it up, why does the mind think about sex at all? Why, Sirs and Ladies? It is your problem. Why? Why has it become a central issue in your life? When there are so many things calling, demanding your attention, you give complete attention to the thought of sex. What happens, why are your minds so occupied with it? Because that is a way of ultimate escape, is it not? It is a way of complete self-forgetfulness. For the time being, at least for that moment, you can forget yourself – and there is no other way of forgetting yourself. Everything else you do in life gives emphasis to the `me’, to the self. Your business, your religion, your gods, your leaders, your political and economic actions, your escapes, your social activities, your joining one party and rejecting another – all that is emphasizing and giving strength to the `me’. That is, Sirs, there is only one act in which there is no emphasis on the `me’, so it becomes a problem, does it not? When there is only one thing in your life which is an avenue to ultimate escape, to complete forgetfulness of yourself if only for a few seconds, you cling to it because that is the only moment you are happy. Every other issue you touch becomes a nightmare, a source of suffering and pain, so you cling to the one thing that gives complete self-forgetfulness, which you call happiness. But when you cling to it, it too becomes a nightmare, because then you want to be free from it, you do not want to be a slave to it. So you invent, again from the mind, the idea of chastity, of celibacy, and you try to be celibate, to be chaste, through suppression,denial,meditation, through all kinds of religious practices, all of which are operations of the mind to cut itself off from the fact. This again gives particular emphasis to the `me’, who is trying to become something, so again you are caught in travail, in trouble, in effort, in pain.
Sex becomes an extraordinarily difficult and complex problem as long as you do not understand the mind which thinks about the problem. The act itself can never be a problem, but the thought about the act creates the problem. The act you safeguard, you live loosely or indulge yourself in marriage, thereby making your wife into a prostitute, which is all apparently very respectable; and you are satisfied to leave it at that. Surely, the problem can be solved only when you understand the whole process and structure of the `me’ and the `mine: my wife, my child, my property, my car, my achievement, my success; and until you understand and resolve all that, sex as a problem will remain. As long as you are ambitious, politically, religiously, or in any way, as long as you are emphasizing the self, the thinker, the experiencer, by feeding him on ambition whether in the name or yourself as an individual, or in the name of the country, of the party, or of an idea which you call religion – as long as there is this activity of self-expansion, you will have a sexual problem. Surely, you are creating, feeding, expanding yourself on the one hand, and on the other you are trying to forget yourself, to lose yourself if only for a moment. How can the two exist together? So, your life is a contradiction; emphasis on the `me’, and forgetting the `me’. Sex is not a problem, the problem is this contradiction in your life; and the contradiction cannot be bridged over by the mind, because the mind itself is a contradiction. The contradiction can be understood only when you understand fully the whole process of your daily existence. Going to the cinemas and watching women on the screen, reading books which stimulate the thought, the magazines with their half-naked pictures, your way of looking at women, the surreptitious eyes that catch you – all these things are encouraging the mind through devious ways to emphasize the self; and at the same time you try to be kind, loving, tender. The two cannot go together. The man who is ambitious, spiritually or otherwise, can never be without a problem, because problems cease only when the self is forgotten, when the `me’ is non-existent; and that state of the non-existence of the self is not an act of will, it is not a mere reaction. Sex becomes a reaction; and when the mind tries to solve the problem, it only makes the problem more confused, more troublesome, more painful. So, the act is not the problem, but the mind is the problem, the mind which says it must be chaste. Chastity is not of the mind. The mind can only suppress its own activities, and suppression is not chastity. Chastity is not a virtue, chastity cannot be cultivated. The man who is cultivating humility is surely not a humble man; he may call his pride humility, but he is a proud man, and that is why he seeks to become humble. Pride can never become humble, and chastity is not a thing of the mind – you cannot become chaste. You will know chastity only when there is love, and love is not of the mind nor a thing of the mind.
Therefore the problem of sex which tortures so many people all over the world cannot be resolved till the mind is understood. We cannot put an end to thinking; but thought comes to an end when the thinker ceases, and the thinker ceases only when there is am understanding of the whole process. Fear comes into being when there is division between the thinker and his thought; when there is no thinker, then only is there no conflict in thought. What is implicit needs no effort to understand. The thinker comes into being through thought; then the thinker exerts himself to shape, to control his thoughts, or to put an end to them. The thinker is a fictitious entity, an illusion of the mind. When there is a realization of thought as a fact, then there is no need to think about the fact. If there is simple, choiceless awareness, then that which is implicit in the fact begins to reveal itself. Therefore, thought as fact ends. Then you will see that the problems which are eating at our hearts and minds, the problems of our social structure, can be resolved. Then sex is no longer a problem, it has its proper place, it is neither an impure thing nor a pure thing. Sex has its place, but when the mind gives it the predominant place, then it becomes a problem. The mind gives sex a predominant place because it cannot live without some happiness, and so sex becomes a problem; but when the mind understands its whole process and so comes to an end, that is, when thinking ceases, then there is creation, and it is that creation which makes us happy. To be in that state of creation is bliss, because it is self-forgetfulness in which there is no reaction as from the self. This is not an abstract answer to the daily problem of sex – it is the only answer. The mind denies love, and without love there is no chastity; and it is because there is no love that you make sex into a problem.
Source: “On Sex,” from The First and Last Freedom, by Jiddu Krishnamurti